Folk-Tales of the Magyars, The UNDER CONSTRUCTION | Annotated Tale

Csabor Ur

THERE was once a young prince who was, perhaps, not quite twenty-five years old, tall, and his slim figure was like a pine tree; his forehead was sorrowful, like the dark pine; his thunder-like voice made his eyes flash; his dress and his armour were black, because the prince, who was known all over the world simply as Csabor Ur (Mr. Csabor), was serving with the picked heroes of the grand king, and who had no other ornaments besides his black suit but a gold star, which the grand king had presented to him in the German camp for having saved his life. The fame of Csabor Ur's bravery was great, and also of his benevolence, because he was kind to the poor, and the grand king very often had to scold him for distributing his property in a careless way. The priests, however, could not boast of Csabor Ur's alms, because he never gave any to them, nor did he ever give them any money for masses, and for this reason the whole hierarchy was angry with him, especially the head priest at the great king's court; but Csabor Ur being a great favourite of the great king, not even a priest dared to offend him openly, but in secret the pot was boiling for him. One cold autumn the great king arrived at the royal palace from the camp with Csabor Ur, the palace standing on the bank of a large sheet of water, and before they had taken the saddles off the stallions the great king thus addressed Csabor Ur: "My lad, rest yourself during the night, and at dawn, as soon as day breaks, hurry off with your most trusty men into Roumania beyond the snow-covered mountains to old Demeter, because I hear that my Roumanian neighbours are not satisfied with my friendship, and are intriguing with the Turks: find out, my lad, how many weeks the world will last there (what's the news?) and warn the old fox to mind his tail, because I may perhaps send him a rope instead of the archiepiscopal pallium." Csabor Ur received the grand king's order with great joy, and, having taken leave of Dame Margit (Margaret), dashed off on his bay stallion over the sandy plains to the banks of the Olt, and from there he crossed over during a severe frost beyond the snow-covered mountains; he arrived at the house of Jordán Boer, the king's confidential man, whose guest he was, and here he heard of old Demeter's cunning in all its details, and also that he was secretly encouraged by the great king's head priest to plot against the sovereign; hearing this, Csabor Ur started on his journey, and arrived on the fourth day in Roumania, where he became the bishop's guest, by whom he was apparently received cordially; the old dog being anxious to mislead with his glib tongue Csabor Ur, about the events there, but it was very difficult to hoodwink the great king's man. Csabor Ur never gave any answer to the bishop's many words, and therefore made the bishop believe that he had succeeded in deceiving Csabor Ur; but he was more on his guard than ever and soon discovered that every night crowds of people gathered into the cathedral; therefore one night he also stole in there dressed in the costume of the country, and to his horror heard how the people were conspiring with the bishop against the great king, and how they were plotting an attack with the aid of the Turkish army.

               Csabor Ur listened to these things in great silence and sent one of his servants with a letter to the great king next day, in which he described minutely the whole state of affairs. The spies, however, laid in ambush for the servant, attacked and killed him, took Csabor Ur's letter from him, and handed it to the bishop, who learnt from its contents that Csabor Ur had stolen into the cathedral every night. He, therefore, had the large oak doors closed as soon as the congregation had assembled on the same night, and in an infuriated sermon he informed the people that there was a traitor among them. Hearing this everybody demanded his death, and they were ready to take their oath on the Holy Cross that they were not traitors. Whereupon the bishop ordered a stool to be placed on the steps of the altar, sat down, and administered the oath to all present. Only one man, in a brown fur-cloak, did not budge from the side of the stoup. The bishop, therefore, addressed him thus: "Then who are you? Why don't you come to me?" But the dark cloak did not move, and the bishop at once knew who it was and ordered the man to be bound; whereupon the multitude rushed forward to carry out his command. Thereupon the man dropped his brown cloak; and, behold, Csabor Ur stood erect--like a dark pine--with knitted brows and flashing eyes, holding in his right hand a copper mace with a gilt handle, his left resting on a broad two-edged sword. The multitude stopped, shuddering, like the huntsman, who in pursuit of hares suddenly finds a bear confronting him; but in the next moment the crowd rushed at their prey. Csabor Ur, after cutting down about thirty of them, dropped down dead himself. His blood spurted up high upon the column, where it can still be seen in the cathedral--to the left of the entrance--although the Roumanian priests tried their best to whitewash it. The great king heard of this, had the head priest imprisoned, and went with an immense army to revenge Csabor Ur's murder. With his army came also Dame Margit, dressed in men's clothes, who wept at the foot of the blood-bespurt column till one day after mass they picked her up dead from the flags.

Bibliographic Information

Tale Title: Csabor Ur
Tale Author/Editor: Jones, W. Henry & Kropf, Lewis L.
Book Title: Folk-Tales of the Magyars, The UNDER CONSTRUCTION
Book Author/Editor: Jones, W. Henry & Kropf, Lewis L.
Publisher: Elliot Stock
Publication City: London
Year of Publication: 1889
Country of Origin: Hungary

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